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Stretches and Acupuncture Treatment for Forward Head Posture / Rounded Shoulder

Here's ways you can prevent from worsening or reverse posture by treating the shoulder with acupuncture.

Long term poor posture from looking at cell phones and sitting at desk typing away in front of our computer causes us to develop forward head posture. Overtime, it also leads to the development of the Dowager's hump, which is this fatty accumulation at the base of the nape area. In this blog, we've compiled some stretches and added some of our own to help you prevent or reverse it.

Desk job can contribute to poor posture and rounded shoulders

Exercise suggestions for Forward Head Posture and Rounded Shoulder / Upper Cross Syndrome. Also benefits TMJ and general neck pain and tightness.

To start we recommend the following equipment:

2) Exercise ball as a chair while working or used for stretching abs and ar

Neck Rolling and Stretching Exercises:

Do rolling neck exercises according to the article

  • with a theraband:

  • with muscle energy techniques — apply orthogonal pressure on your head for three sec as you move from chin tucked in position to your head leaning back slightly.

Shoulder Stretching Exercises:

Roll your shoulder outward and activate the rhomboids as suggested in the video.

  • do the UWTL with theraband U = pull your hand up above your hand, W = bring it downward to the sides of your head by bending your elbows. T = stretch your arms out straight to either side to make a T. L = bring your shoulder down and bring your elbows to your body keeping your hands pointed outwards to either side. When you do this with the theraband you can use the extra resistance from the tension to build muscle strength. You can do this during your walks, or while sitting on your exercise ball.

  • to exercise rhomboids with theraband. you can wrap the theraband around something at eye level. Pull both ends of the band with your hand towards your ears so that your thumbs point backwards. hold for 15 sec and release. You can also do door planks.

Body Stretching Exercises:

Slowly lie backwards on the exercise ball with your arm outstretched up ward and shoulder rolled open. Take slow deep breaths 5x, each breath inward stretch chest out and lengthwise to stretch the abdomen. Drop the arm above the head and let it hang, let your body relax and hang while tucking your chin in.

  • with a Theraband: Sit and hold one end of the Theraband with your feet, pull the other end of the Theraband straight upward, stretching the front of your body. You can let your jaw drop open and try to keep your chin tucked in or your head straight.

  • while standing up: Stand up straight and reach your arms upward. start to make a circle by slowly drawing the arms to the side. As you are doing this, tuck your chin in, roll your shoulders out, open your chest and engage the rhomboids, bend backwards slightly and loosen and shake your arms from your shoulders. Take breaths while you do this, or say “ah” and release a sighing breath. Do this slowly.. the key here is to feel your shoulders relax, belly stretch and chest open up. You can also loosen your jaw and allow it to open and stretch along as your arms reach out and up. This is a qi gong variation. Do some qi gong with a theraband to enhance the stretching of the muscles.

Jaw and mouth stretching Exercises:

Loosen your jaw and open your mouth and move your tongue, stretch it upward, to the right, and to the left. do this 3x each. then keep your jaws loose while you put the tip of your tongue to the back of the top front teeth and hold for 6 seconds. Breath as you do this, you can even just work on meditating with your jaws loose and slightly ajar.

Core strength exercises:

The upper cross syndrome, which is another name by which the forward head posture is known by, is often accompanied by the lower cross syndrome. Therefore, strengthen the core can help a lot with reversing the forward head posture.

Do planks occasionally to build strength in core and tighten up the lower abs and back muscles. This will help your overall posture as well.

Note that you don’t have to do any of these exercises with the Theraband, although it is more engaging that way and are gentle ways to build muscle on top of going through the motion which is already sufficient.

Additionally, doing these exercises while working at desk

You can do some of the neck exercises while you are working if you replace your seat with the exercise ball. This way, you can work a little bit of your posture when you take a short break from your work. Having the bands near also helps work as a reminder to keep posture. One trick is to hold the band with an end each hand and have it go around the upper back. The band will apply slight tension to pull the shoulder back, and while remembering to keep chin tucked in can better maintain posture while working and typing away..

Needling the shoulder releases tension and allows body to correct posture.
Needling the shoulder releases tension and allows body to correct posture.

How Acupuncture Treatments can Help

Acupuncture can facilitate orthopedic adjustments by actually releasing knots in the muscle and improve fascia densifications that were caused by poor posture of shoulder. The acupuncturist will take take to assess the tender points along the front and back of the neck, shoulder area and upper back and see which points could be released. Then we will use Guasha and Tuina to further assist releasing muscular tension. Lastly, we add cupping to pull out the blood stagnation that has been build-up due to poor posture. We will also do the same assessment on the lower hip area, releasing knots and moving the stagnation that accompany the forward head posture. For the dowager hump, we will add additional needles to improve circulation, and with manual therapy and cupping could help to reduce the fat deposit in the area.

As generally this is related to working or looking at phones for a long time, there is a mental component of stress that is related to this pattern. So body acupuncture can be added to help bring stress relief to the patient. Overall, we take a holistic approach to this pattern. If there are additional symptoms of TMJ or teeth grinding, we will also work on additional points in the jaw area as well.

Overall, TCM treatments can be one of the most effective methods to offset chronic bad posture and provide relief for the symptoms associated with forward head posture. Contact us for a free consultation and let us answer questions on how we can help you with your neck and shoulder pain from forward head posture.

Medical Disclaimer, this is provided as an education purpose and includes information aggregated from sources on the internet and from practitioner's experience. These are optional suggestions for the patient to explore and are not mandated as a prescription for the patient’s condition.


At Orange County Acupuncture and Herbs, we help to with chronic symptoms relieve pain so you feel reconnected to life by being able to do what you love.  
Come visit our Fullerton acupuncture clinic and schedule an appointment today.


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